So you want to compete in the sport of CrossFit. That's great! It is a very fun sport that requires a big commitment. There are so many things that go into any given CrossFit competition that in can be very overwhelming trying to figure out what to work on. Should I be doing mostly weightlifting? How about a CrossFit workout every day? Maybe I should focus on gymnastics? Or my aerobic endurance? Every person is different on what they need to improve on, but I believe that there are basic characteristics of every high level competitor. In this article I want to discuss what these characteristics are and discuss a ranking system that I have come up with to help our competitors determine where they stack up.
In the sport of CrossFit there are an infinite amount of workouts that can who up in a given competition. However, I believe that if you develop certain characteristics then you will be prepared for most any workout thrown at you. I have developed a chart that I believe shows these given characteristics. Before I show you the chart, I want to explain my reasoning behind the chart. This chart has three different categories (gymnastics, weightlifting, and conditioning). These are the three main categories that I believe you need to be good at to be successful in CrossFit. Each of these categories has different modalities within it that show up in most CrossFit competitions. There are 8 modalities in gymnastics, 8 in weightlifting, and 5 in conditioning, for a total of 21 modalities. For example, under gymnastics I have listed the most commonly tested gymnastics movements (toes to bar, chest to bar pullups, ring muscle ups, handstand walk, etc.) The same goes for weightlifting, except I have added a few that are rarely tested but I believe are important (back squat, shoulder press). Since the tests for CrossFit are always varied, I chose to use monostructural movements for the conditioning section (running, biking, rowing) because I believe that your level of capacity in these three areas is a very good indicator of your overall conditioning. Of course benchmark workouts, open, regional, and games workouts are great tools for measuring progress, but they are just one data point. I believe that competency in the characteristics in the chart will carry over into competency in the CrossFit workouts, but not necessarily visa versa. For this reason I have not listed CrossFit workouts.
In each category I have divided each modality into three categories. Level 1 is what I would call Games level. What this means is that if a workout comes up that solely depends on this one characteristic (max snatch, workout that is mostly determined by ring muscle ups, etc.) and you are a level 1, then you should finish around where an average Games athlete would. Level 2 is what I would call region top 100 level. What this means is that if you are a level 2 and a workout comes up that solely depends on this one characteristic in the Open, then you would finish somewhere around 100 in the region. Level 3 is what I would call region top 500. This is the same as level 2, but if you are a level 3 then you would finish somewhere around 500 in the region.
Ok, so now you know where you stack up in all of the different modalities (or at least you can test and find out). How do you know where that leaves you? My contention is that you must be a majority Level 1 in every category and can not be below a Level 2 in any category in order to qualify for the CrossFit Games as an individual. I believe that CrossFit Games team athletes can be a majority Level 2, but must still have some Level 1 skills and no Level 3s. The better you are at certain skills the more cushion you have (for example someone way above a Level 1 in the weightlifting section might be able to afford some Level 3s in other areas if they want to be on a team). If you find out what your average level is across all of the modalities then I think you will have a pretty good idea of where you will finish in the Open. For example, say you have 3 level 1 skills, 11 level 2 skills, and 7 level 3 skills. Your average would be 2.19. The difference between 100 and 500 is 400, and 19% of that is 76, so you would add 76 to 100 (level 2) to get 176. I believe that you would finish somewhere around 176 in the open. Now this is not an exact science by any means and what workouts come up can greatly affect were you finish in a given year or given competition, but I believe that you can use this chart to determine where you currently might be in your training and what you most need to work on.
I know what you are thinking. Where did you come up with these numbers? First off I am a huge numbers guy. One of my favorite aspects of CrossFit is the fact that you can use numbers to determine your capacities in different areas. I have been competing in CrossFit since 2011, and I have always been watching to see what other competitors are hitting. What numbers are they hitting at competitions? What PRs are they posting on Instagram? What does their athlete bio say? After doing that I came up with a rough outline of where different numbers would put you at the Games, Regionals, and the Open when those numbers are tested. Through a lot of trial and error I believe that I have come up with a decent portrayal of the field as a whole. Like I said previously this is not an exact science by any means, but if you retroactively test the chart to the last few years Open, Regionals, and Games competitions it holds pretty close to true. My intention with this chart is not to be 100% accurate anyways. My intention is for it to be a way for a competitor to determine where they are in their training, and where they need to get to to achieve their goals. If you want to be an individual Games athlete then you have an idea of where you need to be. If you want to be on a Regional Team then you know you need to be around top 100. If you just want to have a good showing at local comps and in the Open then you know you need to be mostly level 3s. My goal in this chart is to help people get to where they want to be, as well as to have a realistic idea of where they are currently
Ok, enough with the explanations. Below are the numbers. These are ever evolving numbers, and I'm sure that this time next year it will look a little different, but here is what it looks like now. I hope that it can help you in your training!